By: Steve Suman
According to forecasts, a moderately warm week lies ahead, with some rain possible. Rain chances after Monday night are about 30 percent – which is 70 percent against showers – so not bad odds! Whatever your plans for July 4th, have a safe and fun holiday celebration!
“Summer started slowly, in the North Woods” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “but it appears it finally arrived. Water temperatures rising into the 70s should spike activity from larger predatory fish.
“Musky anglers report many follows, but not much success. Fish will become more aggressive when the waters warm. For now, mid-size lures and slow to medium retrieves work best.
“Walleye anglers are catching fish off 10-foot breaks by trolling, dragging, and jigging live bait, with best action in late afternoon into dark. Leeches are starting to produce some fish.
“Northern pike and bass are in weeds and hitting soft plastics. There is some topwater action, but topwaters will produce better when the water warms.
“Panfish anglers are catching some nice fish along shallow shorelines and in back bays, with small hair jigs and small minnows under bobbers producing well for most anglers.
“Purchase only the live bait you need for the day unless you keep them cool in an aerated livewell or container. Dunking them in warm lake water will put them into shock.”
Ken at Hayward Bait says water temperatures are in the upper 60s/low 70s, with some lakes having already experienced a mayfly hatch.
“Predator fish are suspending around minnows and panfish, but will soon transition to outer weedlines and deeper structure. Musky anglers are catching fish on smaller baits in 3-7 feet under cloudy conditions.
“Walleyes are on outside weedlines, hard bottom and weed transitions, and steep breaks. Jigs and minnows and jumbo leeches on slip bobbers are very productive. During low light, find active fish with crankbaits. Walleyes will soon move to mid-lake humps – try leeches and crawlers on Lindy rigs.
“Largemouth bass are from shallow to outside weedlines and anglers are catching fish in shallow slop bays with floating frogs and similar baits. Smallmouth are transitioning to their summer haunts and dragging tubes and Ned rigs is productive. The topwater bite will get better when baitfish transition to outer weedlines and rock humps.
“Panfish are on humps, outside weedlines, and cribs, taking minnows and plastics. Use your electronics to cover water to locate them.”
Jim at Minnow Jim’s says Nelson Lake walleye fishing is spotty, though anglers continue to catch fish.
“Use minnows and leeches on jigs and crawler harnesses, cast shallow diving stickbaits along shorelines and weed edges, and troll deeper diving baits near the river channel.
“For both largemouth bass and northern pike, make some noise, splash, and pop with poppers, frogs, spinners, and buzzbaits in or near weed beds.
“Crappies and bluegills are not anywhere – they are everywhere! Drifting in 5 feet and deeper might be your best bet. Fish near cribs, bogs, stumps, and tree sticks with live bait such as waxies, worms, crawlers, and leeches, or use artificials such as Gulp! Alive, Beetle Spins, and Mini-Mites.”
Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is full, with water temperatures in the lows 70s and rising. Keep minnows cool and aerated in a bucket – do not float them in the lake.
“Musky action is in shallow weeds with Cowgirls and surface baits. When water temperatures reach the upper 70s, fish move deeper so consider trolling Mattlocks, Grandmas, and Jakes over deeper cover.
“Walleye fishing is best with leeches, particularly jumbos, around weed beds in the evening and deeper cover during the day. Most anglers are using live bait, but Flicker Shads and other crankbaits during midday can be effective.
“Northern pike fishing slowed, but anglers are catching them in the weeds. Tinsel Tails, Reed Runners, and Silver Minnows are the best bait choices.
“Smallmouth bass are in shallow stump and rock areas. The east side from Moore’s Bay to Cedar Swamp is most productive with craws, frogs, and spinnerbaits.
“Crappies are at different depths on bogs in later evening hours. Crappie minnows, Gulp! baits, Mini-Mites, and Crappie Scrubs are all solid choices.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses DNR species teams.
“Department of Natural Resources fisheries professionals have many different areas on which to focus. We manage dozens of different species, have many kinds of waterbodies to understand, an array of different equipment with which to be familiar, and must stay up to date on a wide variety of professional skills.
“To make our professional lives easier, the DNR Fisheries Management Program has teams dedicated to work on many important topics.
“We have a team dedicated to managing just walleye, as well as teams dedicated to other popular species including muskellunge, northern pike, bass, panfish, trout, sturgeon, and catfish. Other teams work specifically on Great Lakes issues or focus on shallow lake management.
“There are also teams tasked with developing public outreach plans, protocols for determining the age of fish, training staff, and working on electrofishing safety issues.
“Typically, 8-12 DNR staff members representing different parts of the state make up a team. Each team tries to maintain a mix of biologists, technicians, researchers, and policy staff, and some serve on multiple teams, and recently species teams have included a citizen representative from the Conservation Congress.”
Fireworks can cause wildfires, say DNR forestry officials – “Don’t let your fun turn into flames!” Each year, both legal and illegal fireworks cause wildfires in Wisconsin. Anyone found responsible for causing a wildfire is liable for all suppression costs and may be liable for up to twice the cost of damages. The DNR prohibits all fireworks use on state lands including state parks, forests, and public hunting and fishing properties. For more information, search “wildfire causes: fireworks” on the DNR website.
Flambeau River State Forest is hosting a fireworks display July 3 at the Connors Lake picnic area with a sand beach, volleyball court, horseshoe pit, playground, and picnic area. Fireworks start at dusk, with family-friendly activities and games from 3-6 p.m. For more information, call (715) 332-5271.
Musky success is still mostly with smaller fish, though anglers report good numbers of large fish follows. Concentrate on shallow weeds, weedlines, and humps out to 10 feet, though fish will move deeper as water temperatures rise. Small to medium size bucktails, topwaters, gliders, stickbaits, and topwaters work well, as does trolling larger stickbaits.
Walleye fishing is fair to good, with best success in late afternoon into dark. Fish are scattered in various depths and locations, including weeds and weedlines, breaklines, transition areas, humps, and hard bottoms. Work deep structure during the day, moving shallower in the evening. Bait choices include large/jumbo leeches, crawlers, and minnows fished on jigs, Lindy Rigs, crawler harnesses, spinner and split shot rigs, and slip bobbers, and deeper crankbaits and stickbaits.
Northern pike fishing is good to very good around weeds, weedlines, and congregations of panfish. Spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, buzzbaits, topwaters, and live bait are all good enticements. As always, go a bit deeper with bigger baits for trophy pike.
Largemouth bass are active in/around shallow to mid-depth weeds, weedlines, slop, brush, and wherever you find panfish. Various soft plastics, spinners, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, buzzbaits, and topwaters are all effective at this time.
Smallmouth bass anglers are doing well, catching fish on shallow to mid-depth weeds, weed edges, humps, stumps, and rocks. Top producing baits include soft plastics (tubes, grubs, craws, frogs), Ned rigs, and topwaters.
Crappies are post-spawn and scattering to various locations and depths. Look for fish on/around shallow bays and shorelines, weeds, humps, stumps, bogs, and cribs. Baits of choice include crappie minnows, leeches, worms, Gulp! baits, Crappie Scrubs, Mini-Mites, Tattle-Tails, and small plastics on small jigs and/or under slip bobbers, and Beetle Spins.
Bluegill anglers are making some good catches in shallow bays and on weedlines, humps, stumps, bogs, and cribs. Depths vary from lake to lake. Waxies, worms, crawler chunks, leeches, Gulp! baits, and plastics on jigs and/or under bobbers work well, and do not overlook small Beetle Spins.
July 3: Flambeau River State Forest – fireworks display at Connors Lake picnic area (715-332-5271).
July 11-13: Heart of the North Rodeo – Washburn County Fairgrounds in Spooner (800-367-3306).
July 19-21: Birchwood Lions Club Bluegill Festival (800-236-2252).
Through July 31: Illegal to allow unleashed dogs to run on DNR lands and FWPAs (see regs).
Aug. 1-3: 60th Annual Lumberjack World Championships (715-634-2484).
Aug. 1-4: Jack Pine Savage Days – Spooner (800-367-3306).
Aug. 3: Flambeau River State Forest – cast iron cooking, Connors Lake picnic area (715-332-5271).
Aug. 10: Flambeau River State Forest – Smokey Bear’s 75th birthday party, Connors Lake picnic area (715-332-5271).